Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing and Microsoft AdCenter all allow you, the advertiser, to set up unique URLs to point back to your website. In fact, each ad may (and should) have it’s own unique URL. You don’t need to create unique landing pages for each ad. But instead, you can make each URL unique through the use of URL parameters. By adding parameters to each URL, you will be able to track performance of each campaign in a variety of web analytics tools.
It looks like this:
Display URL = www.site.com/special_offer
Actual URL =
The Display URL is what will show up in the ad. The Actual URL is the actual link that will be used to take visitors to your site. Let’s break down the Actual URL parameters:
The question mark symbol is required to set the parameters aside from the link. For most intents, humans and browsers ignore anything to the right of the question mark (the parameters can signal web servers to do something speical). But web analytics tools can use the parameters to differentiate click sources. So this parameter src=gglp will indicate that all clicks with this parameter originated from GooGLe Ppc.
Now we use the ampersand & to separate the next parameter(name value pair) from the last. This “camp” parameter indicates clicks that came from Campaign #1. It’s a good habit to keep your parameters long enough to be recognizable to a human, but as short as possible without being cryptic.
We use the ampersand again to add two more parameters indicating Ad Group #62 and ad creative #2.
We can now use just about any analytics tool to segment and compare the behavior of the traffic from each PPC engine, campaign, group, and individual ad. If you keep your ads in logical groups, then the aggregate behavior of each group will become apparent in a segment-oriented web analytics tool like Omniture or ClickTracks.
Adwords URL Setup
MSN AdCenter PPC Ad URL Setup
- Google Analytics gets around this problem with use of the gclid parameter that changes for each ad appearance. Nice for Google, but a pain for those who want to use other analytics tools. Use the parameters so, in case you don’t want to use Google Analytics, you can slide right into any other analytics tool and get results.
- Long parameter lists are fine for URLs used in PPC ads. But you should avoid long parameter lists on non-PPC ads and on links within your site. Search engines spiders can get confused by long parameter lists. But the good news is that the URLs in your PPC ads aren’s crawled by the spiders. They simply serve to allow a web analytics tool to know one ad from the other.
That should help for now. Go parameterize your ads!